Julius Randle will encounter an opponent far more difficult to beat than a bruising big man in the paint. He will still push even if the effort proves more challenging than anything he encounters his rookie season with the Lakers. Randle will relish this experience despite the complicated schedule providing a sneak preview on what the NBA’s grinding 82-game season entails.
This weekend, Randle is hosting a three-on-three basketball tournament at his alma mater, Prestonwood Christian Academy, near Dallas, Texas to raise funds for the TeamConnor Childhood Cancer Foundation. The $200 registration fee for each team will go toward the foundation’s efforts in providing funds for research and treatment surrounding childhood cancer. Randle will then immediately fly back to Los Angeles for the Lakers’ Media Day on Monday at the team’s practice facility in El Segundo.
This initiative taps into Randle’s hope to use his NBA basketball career as a launching pad toward helping those in need. But this particular issue also hits Randle closely. In 2009, one of Randle’s young Prestonwood classmates named Connor Cruse died because of neuroblastoma cancer.
“Ever since then, I had a heart and passion for it,” Randle said in an interview with this newspaper. “No kid should ever have to go through that. I’ve always been willing to help his family. Cancer affects everybody, even kids. So for me, this is touching.”
Randle will provide a personal touch through both his presence and with the Lakers providing gift bags for participants. But Randle has become involved with this issue well before he came a highly coveted NBA prospect. Randle worked on the tournament’s junior board as a student at Prestonwood, which honored Connor in various ways shortly after his death. Randle’s team wore the foundation’s symbol on the back of their jerseys.
“The whole community got behind it,” Randle said. “He had battled it and was so strong for so many years. I never thought it would take his life away. From then on, I wanted to do something about it so that no family or kid ever goes through that.”
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